How Moving Affects Children More Than Adults

For children, moving doesn't just mean changing homes. It also often involves changing schools, friends, etc. Family unity is a determining factor during this transition. Today, we'll talk more about how moving affects children.
How Moving Affects Children More Than Adults
Elena Sanz Martín

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Moving to a new home is a drastic change for any person, no matter what their age. And this is even more true when it comes to children since they lack the necessary maturity and perspective to understand the motives. In this article, we’ll tell you how moving affects children and how to minimize the impacts of this change.

Not all moves are the same, nor do they produce the same level of change in a child’s life. It’s one thing to move to another home in the same part of town. But it’s quite another when children have to change schools or adapt to a new city. In these situations, little ones may feel like their world is crashing down and experience strong feelings of uncertainty.

Why moving affects children more than adults

For small children, it’s hard to understand and adapt to moving to a new home. First of all, because it’s something that’s completely beyond their control. Normally, children don’t take part in this sort of decision and, in many cases, they have no say in the matter whatsoever.

Rather, they have no choice but to accept these unfavorable circumstances that they have no say over. And, in many cases, they don’t completely understand what’s going on.

How Moving Affects Children More Than Adults

What’s more, we need to take into account that children have a much smaller social environment. Therefore, moving affects children in a great way because it takes them away from their comfort zone. It completely erases those places and people that they trusted. 

Moving often means leaving friends behind and having to go to a new school. It means losing what’s familiar and comfortable and entering the unknown.

Up until the age of three, children tend to adapt fairly easily to moving to a new home. That’s because their world consists basically of their parents. However, once kids start school, things become more complicated – especially with adolescents. At this age, friendships are much more intense and children may have their first loves. It’s very hard for them to say goodbye.

Finally, perhaps their parents aren’t in agreement about the decision to move. This can generate conflicts and arguments in the environment that, no doubt, affect children as well. Tension between parents only adds to feelings of confusion about what’s going on and makes it harder to adapt.

How moving affects little ones

Each child may react differently to this situation. However, it’s common for them to, in one way or another. express feelings of disagreement and fear. In the case of a move, children often display the following:

  • Irritability. They may take on rebellious and negative attitudes.
  • Crying and expressing feelings of sadness.
  • Sleep alteration and changes in their eating habits due to stress and anxiety.
  • Anger towards their parents and attempts to get them to change their minds about moving.
  • Regressive behaviors. They may display behaviors that are representative of previous developmental stages

How Moving Affects Children More Than Adults

How can we make moving easier on children?

First of all, parents need to show their children that they’re a team and display a positive attitude about moving. It’s not right for children to have to witness arguments between their parents. Nor is it helpful for them to hear their parents talking negatively about the situation. This can cause children to take sides with one of their parents and develop an even greater resistance to the change.

Rather, we need to allow our children to participate in the process every step of the way. Show them pictures of the new home… Talk to them about where they’re going to live… Allow them to have a say in choosing new decorations… Let them pack their own belongings…

You can also ask them if they want a new style for their bedrooms. If not, you can simply ask them where they want to put all of their things in their new room.

Lastly, you must understand the importance of family stabilityYou need to show your little ones that, no matter where you go, your family will be their true home. Spending time as a family, developing strong bonds, and enjoying activities together can help make them feel more comfortable, supported, and safe in their new place of residence.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.